Image credit: LoL Esports
Lee "Crown" Min-ho, the 2017 League of Legends World Champion mid laner, has retired from playing League of Legends professionally after six years spent competing at a high level in Brazil, South Korea and North America. The player reminisced on his time as a pro gamer in Starcraft: Brood War and League of Legends on an Instagram post.
Crown blazed a trail for Korean players looking to develop their skills as he was among the first in his region to play in a then-Wildcard region, his first professional squad being Brazil's Team 58ers in 2014. Despite failing to win the CBLoL's second split in 2014, he caught the eyes of Samsung Galaxy's scouting staff.
The mid laner's tenure within Samsung Galaxy (later KSV and Generation Gaming) lasted three years. In the 2015 summer split, the squad avoided relegation off the play of its solo laners, Crown and top laner Lee "CuVee" Seong-jin. The duo received reinforcements in the offseason as jungler Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong, AD carry Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk, and AD-turned-support Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in joined.
Alongside them, Crown reached the World Championship finals in 2016, where they lost to Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok's SK Telecom T1 3-2. The team would have its revenge in 2017 as they lifted the Worlds trophy after sweeping Faker's squad 3-0. However, the team stumbled in 2018 and ranked last in its Worlds group, sparking a rebuilding effort within Gen.G.
From then onward, the mid laner, famed for his Viktor and Malzahar play, moved to North America where he played for OpTic Gaming in 2019 and Counter Logic Gaming in the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) spring split.
Crown is one of the most notable Korean players to start their careers in a Wildcard region or to reach significant career milestones there. In 2020, top laner Kim "Topoon" Ji-hoon, jungler Kim "River" Dong-woo, mid laner Park "Tank" Dan-won and AD carry Lee "Archer" Keun-hee are the latest Korean players to earn notice from regions outside of the big four — LEC, LCS, LPL and LCK.